How to Write a Personal Note

You’ve spent years communicating with friends and family by sending quick texts and short e-mail messages that are soon forgotten.  But as the holidays approach, you may be considering reaching out to your loved ones by speaking from the heart in a personal note that fills in the details of your life and your experiences in the past year.

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Customers have often told me that they have trouble finding the words to express themselves or that they feel self conscious about their writing skills.  Often, all that they need are a few prompts, and that’s enough to get them going toward writing a beautiful heartfelt sentiment.  Consider some of these ideas when it comes to crafting your own personal note.

Open with a salutation.  Here are some examples:

We hope that this finds you and yours doing well and enjoying the magic of the season.

As we enjoy the season and prepare to gather with family and friends, we’ve been thinking of you.

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed so quickly.  We hope that it’s been wonderful for you and yours.

If you’re replying to a letter that someone’s just sent you, it’s a nice touch to write, “It’s so good to hear from you.”  This will music to the ears of your friend.  It will let them know that their note to you was appreciated and it will encourage them to make the effort to stay in touch with you.

Your friend wants to know that someone is thinking of them and enjoys their company.  If you are writing to a specific person, go on to engage that person with comments about something meaningful specifically for them.  For example:

We went to the ballet and when they danced your favorite Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, it made me think of you.

When the Giants won the Worlds Series, we knew that you must have been at home watching the game and cheering along with us.  We got such a kick out of seeing your hero Tim Lincecum pitch.

Based on your recommendation, I read The Black Box by Michael Connelly.  I couldn’t put it down and now I want to read everything that he’s written.

We had a beautiful crop of tomatoes in our backyard this year, thanks go all the tips that you gave me about gardening.

Think about your loved one’s favorite things.  Do they like to cook, knit, play basketball, hunt?  Did you experience one of these things during the year, and did it make you think of them?  Did you have a meal that you know he would have loved?  Did you drive through a town where she once lived?  Did the two of you do something great together this year, like kayak down the Hudson or see a terrific movie?  Tell her that you were thinking about her, and if you can tell her specifically why, it adds a beautiful touch and it will be likely raise a smile on her face.

If you are writing one note that’s going to go out to a broader audience, consider if there’s something you can say of a somewhat personal nature to all of them.  You might want to talk about your home town, or the family business, or a personal labor of love.

I’ve become so obsessed with my aikido practice, that it inspired me to start studying jiu jitsu and muay thai too.

Brooklyn has changed so rapidly in the past few years that it’s hard to remember the way it used to be.

We realized a dream this year when our company was finally able to launch an art program this year for the local kids.

Now it’s time to talk about yourself and your family.  Consider whether or not there have been any big changes in the past year.  Did something exciting happen in your professional or personal life?  Did a family member marry or have a baby?  Did you start a new job?  Did you visit a place where you’d never been before?  Did you get involved in some new endeavor?

Joseph and Stella had the most beautiful October wedding.  I wish that you could have seen them at the altar at the Palm House conservatory, surrounded by the fiery autumn leaves outdoors.

On September 1st Nick and Lisa welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world and lovingly named him Tommaso, after Lisa’s beloved grandfather.  The old man would have been beaming with pride to see his name sake.

Mary and I attended our 40th High School Reunion!  Our old friends looked so different without their bell bottoms and love beads.

If you have children, give a brief report on their progress:

Michael took up Tee Ball and made a gang of new friends.

Kathy loves her ballet lessons.  She played an angel in The Nutcracker.

We can’t keep William off the ice; he’s destined to play with the Rangers.

Elizabeth started college and is majoring in forestry.  The woodlands need her care now more than ever before.

Do not make your note too long.  People will love to hear from you, but if you go on too long, they may start to zone out.  You want to send a friendly letter, not a filibuster.  It’s better to get good things said in the smallest amount of words.

Close with a holiday sentiment and an expression of thanksgiving.  We have a large selection of sentiments right here.


Image courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism via Creative Commons

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